Emile Hirsch has signed on to play John Belushi in an as-yet-untitled biopic, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The film will reportedly take place during the height of the comedian’s fame, focusing on his stint on Saturday Night Live and his roles in Animal House and The Blues Brothers, through his death of a drug overdose at age 33 in 1982. It will be the second Belushi biopic, following Wired, in 1989.
The movie will be written and directed by Steve Conrad, who previously penned the screenplays for the 2006 Will Smith movie The Pursuit of Happyness and the 2005 Nicolas Cage flick The Weather Man, among other films. He based the script on the 2005 “oral history” book Belushi: A Biography, by the comedian’s widow, Judith Belushi Pisano, and Tanner Colby. Belushi buddy and Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd is set to executive produce the project, and filming is set to begin next spring.
Earlier this year, Hirsch – whose credits include Into the Wild, Milk and Speed Racer –starred opposite Paul Rudd in Prince Avalanche. It was based on an Icelandic film, Either Way, and its story focused on the bittersweet relationship between Hirsch’s and Rudd’s characters as they attempted to repair roads that had been razed by forest fires. At the time, he told Rolling Stone he took the role in order to do something different for him.
“Most of my film work has been pretty straightforward dramatic parts,” he said in our interview. “That template of Into the Wild – all the expectations people have for me are based off of that, and those characters always have a sort of self-sufficient and loving nature, and just a pride in solitude. To contrast that, my character Lance in Prince Avalanche, he’s kind of a needy, insecure brat, very immature in a lot of ways, and he doesn’t want to be alone – ever. There’s kind of a perverse pleasure in playing the exact opposite, and finding humor and an endearing quality to someone that’s like that.”